As the world continues to scrutinize the LDS Church during this election season, there are plenty of would-be experts ready to share some weird and scary nuggets of what Mormons “really” believe. Besides almost always being bizarre, disingenuous distortions, these “shocking secrets” never seem to be considered by those who “reveal” them—or by those who reads them—with the only important question in mind: are they true or not?
Secular America prides itself on being scientific, a bastion of the reason bestowed by the Enlightenment; only an extreme irony can account for this myopia. Yes, a lot of the supposed facts out there about Mormons are, as Christopher Hitchens put it, “weird and sinister.”
But why stop at pointing that out? Plenty of things that are weird and sinister are also true (any number of strange historical occurrences and scientific findings). If those who would criticize the LDS Church have any real intellectual honesty, why not definitively expose the errors in its claims? Or, more objectively, investigate those claims to see if they’re true or not?
It was sad to see someone with so many good qualities, someone who had herself been the target of so much unfair maligning, stoop to the level of the desperate ad that Sue Lowden ran against Sharron Angle in the final moments leading up to last night’s primary election. I said recently that it’s a bad sign when you use the same arguments against somebody that the media machine in the other party is using, and Lowden did it. Everybody wanted to jump onto the “Sharron Angle is in bed with Scientologists” meme, and Lowden was all too happy, it seems, to get her hands dirty, too.
The Lowden ad spoofs Angle’s investigation of a prisoner rehabilitation program that had shown some positive results. The problem: it involved giving massages to inmates, and it was endorsed by the church of Scientology. Angle, of course, is not a Scientologist herself–she’s a Baptist–and the program was not, so far as I know, directly related to Scientology as any kind of proselytizing attempt, but any opportunity to link your political opponents with unpopular kooks must be exploited, right?
So when the Lowden ad mentions that the controversial program was sponsored by Scientologists, the camera pans down to show a framed portrait of Tom Cruise on a stand surrounded by candles. The whole 30-second spot is on YouTube, but I’ve just given you the offending screen shot because I want people to focus on how outlandish it is.
This ad, like all such ads these days, ends with Lowden proudly declaring that she “approves this message.” Really? You want to advertise the fact that your campaign against Angle consisted of a sleazy (and inaccurate) association with weirdos? When Tarkanian started throwing such cheap shots at you, I said that I’d lost all respect for him. Now it’s your turn. You should be ashamed. Say what you want about Sharron Angle, but at least she ran a clean campaign.